Air Canada says the Boeing 737MAX-8 is the “right aircraft” to enable it to expand its trans-Atlantic air connectivity and expand its offering into the Republic of Ireland market. The airline will deploy its new single-aisle airliners on new seasonal Montreal – Dublin and Toronto – Shannon routes in summer 2018.
Alongside the two new routes, its existing Toronto – Dublin service will transfer to mainline operation from Air Canada Rouge from October 29, 2017, flown by an Airbus A330 with increased frequencies this winter and daily next summer, while a seasonal Vancouver – Dublin link will resume next summer with an increase in weekly frequencies from three to five return rotations.
Passenger demand between Canada and the Republic of Ireland is on the rise and Air Canada has carried more than one million passengers between Dublin Airport and Canada since it started scheduled flights from the Irish capital in 2002. Benjamin Smith, president passenger airlines at Air Canada says the new Boeing 737MAX-8 is the “right aircraft for the right market”.
With 13% of the Canadian population claiming Irish ancestry there is no doubt on the underlying demand for increased connectivity between the two countries. There is also a strong corporate connection between the two countries: Ireland is the fifth largest recipient of Canadian investment overseas, with about 80 Canadian companies are located in Ireland while there are also more than 60 Irish companies with operations in Canada.
Air Canada will configure its 737MAX-8s in a two class arrangement with dedicated Business and Economy cabins. The aircraft, and the larger MAX-9 will directly replace the airline’s Airbus A320 and A321 fleets as part of a fleet modernisation process, albeit the improved performance of the aircraft allow their introduction on longer routes as highlighted by this trans-Atlantic deployment. It calculates projected fuel and maintenance cost improvements of more than 20% per seat will generate an estimated CASM reduction of approximately 10% compared to its existing narrowbody fleet.
CHART – Air Canada will receive its first two 737MAX-8s in 2017, 18 more in 2018 and further MAX-8s and MAX-9s between 2019 and 2021Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation Fleet Database showing projected deliveries
The airline has a total of 61 737MAX airliners on order and is due to receive its first aircraft in the latter stages of this year and the balance through 2021. It originally ordered 33 MAX-8s and 28 MAX-9s but earlier this year exercised its substitution rights to switch its commitment to 49 MAX-8s and 12 MAX-9s. They will likely debut in passenger service on core domestic routes and also be used on flights into the United States of America, Mexico and the Caribbean, although the Irish routes are currently the only confirmed services for the type.
Air Canada will join Norwegian in using the 737MAX on trans-Atlantic routes, while WestJet, which uses Next-Generation variants of the 737 on flights into Europe from Canada may also deploy its soon to arrive MAX airliners on trans-Atlantic routes in the future. ASL Airlines France also currently utilise Next-Generation 737s on flights between Ireland and Canada.
Icelandair will also use its 737MAX-8s on flights into Canada and the US as well as European destinations from its Keflavik International Airport hub. A recent update of its schedule inventory for summer 2018 initially shows it will debut the 737MAX-8 on its new Reykjavik – Berlin route before introducing the type into the Amsterdam, Billund, Birmingham, Hamburg, Paris and Stockholm markets in the second quarter of 2018. However, the type will also be used to serve the North American markets of Cleveland, Halifax, Montreal and Philadelphia. The arrival of the type is also facilitating the introduction of a new Dallas flight through the redeployment of a 757-200.